Podcast: Fear of Overhyping Oscar Colas

Record Date: 2/1/2023


  • Oscar Colas is the White Sox best internal option to play right field on Opening Day. But Josh feels amiss after reading The Athletic’s and ESPN’s Top 100 lists not include Colas in their rankings. Are we missing something in our analysis that could lead to overhyping Colas?
  • White Sox sign AJ Alexy to add depth in Charlotte.
  • Las Vegas and sportsbooks across the country released their 2023 preseason O/U team win totals. Is the 83.5 win total fair to the White Sox, and how do they stack compare to the rest of the American League?
  • The Ramova Theater is coming soon to Bridgeport, and Josh has the latest details on the development of that project.
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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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As Cirensica

Haven’t listen to the podcast yet (will do later), but K. Law’s list is based heavily on upside which hurts players with strong floor such as Colas. In the Q&A session, somebody brought Colas up and asked Law to explain why he wasn’t in the list. Law wrote:

He didn’t drop off the list. Nice regular without ceiling beyond that. I think he’ll be a solid 50 (average everyday player) in RF, but not more, and there’s some small chance he’s less because he’ll probably post relatively low OBPs.

I think the same about Colas or he hasn’t shown a reason to think differently. I see Colas like a David Peralta type of outfielder. Perhaps with a higher peak. I hope I am super wrong, but I’ll be content with getting a healthy player at the moment.


I think all this is fair but I’d really like to hear Law expand on this quote. I don’t disagree (and I’m no prospect expert). But I’d like to hear the reasoning behind Colas being a “nice regular without ceiling beyond that.” The consensus seems to be: solid defense with big power. So if he indeed has no ceiling beyond “nice regular,” I assume the worry is about bat-to-ball skills and/or OBP?

I can only stat scout. But you have to go back to his 19 year old season in Japan to find a time when he’s struggled to hit or get on base. He raked across all levels last season and hit over .300 at each level (his worst performance being .306/.364/563 in AA). As a 20 year old in Japan, he hit .290/.351/.497.

There are several reasons you might still be concerned about the profile. Maybe Law doesn’t like the K rates, thinks he beat up on younger pitching, or sees a hitch in the swing (a la Collins). So I’m really not doubting Law. I’m just wondering what Law (or, apparently, Kiley) thinks will change in MLB and why.


I think “nice regular” is a pretty great projection…I think that means a roughly 2.5 WAR player. I don’t think it’s likely we would see that in a rookie season. But several low cost seasons of that prior to free agency is pretty useful.

FWIW, Law ranked the Dodger’s Outman at #74 and he’s (very roughly) similar to Colas except more athletic and likelier to play CF longer term. I assume in both cases Law thinks the K and chase numbers put a cap how good their bats will be.


Totally. I’d take “nice regular” in a heartbeat. I’m just wondering why the upside isn’t there, according to Law. The numbers alone (that’s all I have!) suggest he could be better than a nice regular, even if he probably won’t be. I’m sure Law has his reasons, I’m just wondering what they are.


It’s hard to be plus with high chase rates is all. We don’t know if Colás’ chase is super-bad or just bad, and it’s good that he doesn’t seem to have issues with in-zone contact. But really high chase rates badly limit offensive production; Salvy Perez, for instance, a perennial hacker, put up only a 126 wRC+ in his 48-homer 2021 because he walks less than TA, and doesn’t run a high BABIP either (.298 that year). It’s possible that Colás has BABIP talent/consistently high exit velo such that it’s not quite that bad, but high chase rates put a hard cap on offensive ceiling for all but the most absurdly talented (Robert, mostly)


At least in the minors last year, Colas walked about twice as often as Perez does (and, for what it’s worth, Perez’ BB% was relatively stable in the move from minors to MLB).

Fair point on the chase rates. To be clear, I’m not saying he will exceed “nice regular” and, again, I take that in a heartbeat. But I have a hard time believing “nice regular” is his ceiling. I’d like to hear Law expand on that. Because if he keeps that average north of .280 (which he did in Japan and across three MiLB levels last year), he’s likely better than a “nice regular,” if the power and defense are there. Like, a 130 wRC+ with good defense is probably a top 5 right fielder in baseball—certainly top 10. Is that really unattainable for Colas?

For example, I see 2022 Taylor Ward as a good model for Colas’ ceiling. That strikes me as a sensible ceiling, anyway. That’s better than “nice regular,” though.


Chase problems only applies to Colas. Outman ran double Colas’ BB%, at both the AA/AAA levels. Outman has bat-to-ball issues but significantly better swing decisions than Colas. In addition to the speed/defense advantages.


Getting on base via BABIP is a hell of a lot different than getting on base via walks. BABIP typically falls way faster when moving from Minors to Majors, due to both better pitching and better defense. A LHH pull flyball hitter with below average speed like Colas isn’t the type that you’d expect to hit for high BABIP in MLB.


That Law quote is more positive than I’d expect – that’s kind of uplifting.

Colas is the Sox best OF prospect but that’s not saying much given the state of the system. The projections listed at fangraphs lean to the dour side…ranging from 0.2 to 1.7 WAR.

If things go well, I think Colas is probably a 1 WAR right fielder for the Sox this season. That’s realistic and not terrible. But it also isn’t enough to move the Sox out of projecting to a third place finish in the AL Central.


Im hoping for a 2 war… if the defense is as advertised all he really has to do is play enough games to generate 2 wins.

Look at some of the atleast partial outfielders in the 2 fwar range from last year seth brown, cody bellinger, austin hayes , trent grishom, mike yaz… if you provide good defense you really only need to hit about 230-250 with a 300-320 obp and like 15 to 20 homers …. those numbers seem very possible.


Colas does not have a high floor. He has poor plate discipline which literally leads to the opposite of a high floor. 4x as many K as BB, in AA, at 23, which is older for top prospects at that level.


Not all K are made the same. Colás’ issue is chasing pitches out of the zone, which isn’t good but is considerably less bad than having severe in-zone contact issues, which is not a problem for him.

Otherwise he’s got plus pop and not many problems lifting the ball, and plays competent, maybe above-average defense in RF. He’d need Javy Baez level chase rates to not be a strongside platoon RF at least.

Last edited 1 month ago by a-t

Zone-Contact vs AA pitchers vs. Zone-Contact vs. MLB level stuff and locations…

And Chasing doesn’t just affect K% and BB%. If he’s facing well-placed sliders just off the plate, is he going to be able to consistently pull and life those?

ESPN (McDaniel) and FG (Longenhagen), for my money the two best prospect analysts, grade Colas as a 45 FV. Some other sites grade as a 50 FV, but the number of 50 FV grades that those sites give is literally impossible since 200+ players minor league players can’t all be average MLB regulars (2 WAR players).

FG’s long history of empirical analysis on prospect values assigns 45 FV hitters as worth $6M surplus value over the course of a team’s club control. That’s probabilistic, so could be higher or lower. When higher, it’s probably often a lot higher, but the lower outcome happens much much more.

A no doubt strongside platoon RF (deterministic outcome) at least is worth a hell of a lot more than $6M surplus value.

So either either those guys are very wrong or we should be praying to god that Colas can be a solid strongside platoon RF and not even waste prayers on seeking anything more.


Not all those FV are the same, lol, what they mean depend strongly on age/experience. They have for example Schultz as a 45, not bc they think he is going to be a no. 4-5 starter, but bc they’re hedging his very sizable ceiling (crazy size, arm slot, impressive control for age/size, rapidly improving stuff) against his tremendous risk (crazy size, pitcher, recent high school draftee, etc).

A version of a major league role 45 could be a solid strongside platoon guy, and yes, is worth more than $6M in surplus value. but you are not accounting for the fact that vastly more historical 45s that simply never played in the bigs much, if at all, bc they were far less developed when assigned that than Colás. also FG is the lowest on Colás anyways, in this specific 45/50 is just a “will he hit lefties ok or not” argument.


The closer a player is to MLB, that doesn’t give them a higher mean expected value, that means there are smaller error bars around the mean expected value. In order to have a higher mean expected value, he would need to have a higher prospect grade. Again, I like Eric/Kiley’s valuations because they’re based on empirical evidence and research, but if you want to focus on the prospect evaluators who think every first round pick is a future all-star and every organization in baseball has 8 players who are future regulars in their systems, go ahead and do that.

Also, Colas is not an established MLB role 45, he hasn’t even had an extended run in AAA yet. To be an established MLB role 45, he’s need 2 seasons of hitting at a 100-110 wRC+ given his lack of defensive value and below-average speed/baserunning.

Assuming he’s a 50 FV, that would be taking the Steamer Projection (117 wRC+, 1.7 WAR for a corner OF). Ok, that’s a viable opinion. But there’s also the ZiPS Projection (94 wRC+) and the BAT (87 wRC+), which wouldn’t even touch the threshold of a 45 FV and would be about a 40 at best (in 2023, there’s room for growth later on). I prefer ZiPS and the BAT because the authors are public and transparent about those systems and they seem to be well-researched and constantly tweak to correct for errors.

Basically, you can make the case that if things go well, and he adjusts quickly despite not even having played in AAA yet, he could be like David Peralta. David Peralta himself also exists, and would cost a few million. That’s why prospects like Colas don’t really have a ton of surplus value, there’s always a veteran that you can sign for a few million who gives you a more certain outcome of what you’d hope for from a prospect.

As Cirensica

I said “strong floor” not “high floor”. By that, I meant that Colas is likely to be a playable player in the ways Charlie Tilson wasn’t.


I’m a Colas fan and still hoping that he can, eventually, play at an all-star level.

However, I understand why rankings have him on the fringes of the top 100 lists.

Speed is average
Arm is excellent
Solid in RF, passable in center for short bursts but probably won’t last for long
Very good power

Chase rate is still high on breaking pitches is biggest concern. This could lead to high strikeout, low average and low OBP. That’s the real concern.

This is why I feel it would be best for the Sox to give more time to AAA to try to solve some of these issues of pitch recognition to decrease the chances of him falling prey to his biggest weakness at the MLB level when he sees much better off speed stuff. I think it’s very short sighted of the Sox.

Last edited 1 month ago by dongutteridge

give more time to AAA to try to solve some of these issues

He is too talented to be challenged in AAA though. So as long as he is successful in Spring Training, he probably needs to be in MLB. He will struggle eventually. He can be given some time to turn it around in the majors. But keeping the option open to send to AAA based on bad spring training or major struggles.


I agree. He should be given every chance to earn the RF job. Even if he struggles some, his power, his lefthandedness and his defensive ability will make him an upgrade over what they’ve been putting in right for the last few years. But it would still be nice to have a decent backup plan. Right now the backup plan is Billy Hamilton, Victor Reyes, Jake Marisnick, or (please not) Leury.


What defensive ability? Craig Dedelow has the same (limited) AA defensive numbers in RF as Colas which are near the bottom of the Southern League, and he hit more HR’s in Birmingham (22 to 14). Where’s the Dedelow for RF hypetrain? Did he even get an invite to ST? Maybe the reason they are talking up Eloy in RF is that they think he’ll be a better defender there.
But no worries because Hahn has provided zero alternatives so we are going with Colas no matter what. Go Go White Sox!


Yeah I have no idea where everybody is coming up with “good defense”. FG gives him a present 40, future 50 in a corner OF spot. That’s average at best. Maybe just ‘strong’ is in White Sox terms where they ran Vaughn, the literally worst defensive OF in MLB, out there last year.


That’s not how scouting reports on glove works, especially for outfield. Ideally you want more range in CF and arm in RF, but that 50 is a general outfield measure; it means he’d be a 40-45 relative to CF, but a 55 relative to RF.

From this BP scouting report: “At present, defense is fine but not spectacular in center. Generally makes the play but it is somewhat rare to see him beat a ball to the spot. Move to a corner OF position a distinct possibility, and he should be above average there.”


Very disingenuous argument. I doubt you’re taking yourself seriously. Dedelow had almost exactly twice as many AA plate appearances last year as Colas. Colas had the higher ISO there. Dedelow is 28 years old. Dedelow struck out in nearly 40% of his plate appearances across both levels he played in last year. Minor league defensive stats are not really a significant thing unless you have access to minor league statcast data that you’d like to share. That’s why there’s scouting.

If you want to take scouting out of it, the projection systems see Colas as a league average hitter in 2023 and Dedelow as having a similar wRC+ to Leury Garcia this season if he made the majors.


Of course I’m being facetious about Dedelow but not about the overhype of Colas. Solid D and power, that’s what is being said about Colas and yet Dedelow matched him in both this year. Minor league defensive stats are limited but they are still relative to other minor leaguers, especially in the same league. On that Colas is near the bottom for RF with as many innings in RF. Scouting, if the report was from before June then it’s as relevant as the reports that said Vaughn could play RF in the majors because they were based off of something that didn’t include game time in RF. The report I’ve seen is that he is not a CF and is a work in progress in RF. That’s not “Solid” or even major league ready. It may be good enough for the White Sox but that brings us back to relative. I’m aware we are going with him no matter what, that may be fine for a rebuilding team but not one trying to actually win.

Jim Margalus

There’s no reason to bring up Dedelow whatsoever, unless you 1) don’t know how to compare prospects or 2) want to derail the conversation.

Torpedo Jones

+1 to this. I understand the use of hyperbole, but Dedelow isn’t at all relevant. Colas is 23 years old, has generated plenty of hype for his potential future value, and produced a .928 OPS in AA while age-appropriate for the level last year. Dedlow was a 27 year old who delivered a BA of .232 while striking out in 38% of his PAs in AA last year.

Leave poor Craig out of this. He’s probably trying his best, but his on-field limitations are well known and he’s nowhere near the prospect status of Colas.


As I said I was being facetious about Dedelow. I wasn’t trying to derail but challenge.


I’ve never once seen a report that said Vaughn could play RF that wasn’t the Sox blowing smoke up their own asses.

Can I ask what “minor league defensive stats” you’re looking at?

Anyways, re defense scouting, here’s Longenhagen:

“Perhaps there’d be enough power to support an everyday profile if Colas could play center field, but even though he spent a ton of time there while in A-ball, he trended more toward right field after promotion to Birmingham and Colas simply doesn’t have the sleek look or top-end speed of a viable center fielder.”

He’s not a CF, but there is a massive, MASSIVE difference between ‘they tried him in CF, but I don’t think that’s gonna work’ and ‘we’re putting a lifelong 1B in the outfield lol’

Torpedo Jones

You hit the nail on the head with your first sentence – what credible source suggested Vaughn was suited to play OF as anything other than an emergency fill-in?


The one that put him in RF for 432 innings. How credible was it? You know the results. This wasn’t some 2 week emergency, it went on and on and on for 2 years. That’s one of the issues I see with published reports, they rely to much on team assessments. Its understandable, but with the Sox it’s just not credible.

Jim Margalus

Guys as prominent as Vaughn and Colás get scouted independently.

Torpedo Jones

Hence the word “credible” – I don’t recall seeing any independent professionals touting Vaughn as a potential corner outfield and he had plenty of coverage coming into his draft.

Trooper Galactus

Even the White Sox didn’t think Vaughn was an outfielder until they realized they ran out of them.


He is too talented to be challenged in AAA though. ….Ugh yeah no overhype here.


He’s good at lifting the ball and he has big pop. The issue is that what this translates to at Charlotte specifically is: he’s gonna be hitting pop flies for HR. His issues with chase won’t be enough of an issue to mean he’s not producing big power.


If Colas struggles mightily, then this team is in trouble because there’s already a greater than 50% chance that Leury is the de facto starting 2B by June.


On the plus side, Leury can’t start full time at both 2B and RF.


Then you don’t know Leury.

Torpedo Jones

That’s my favorite comment of the week.


Age vs comp, sample size and k rate are what I based my desire for the Sox to make Colás plan b in RF, while giving him more time at AAA.


What, and have him be 25 years old popping fly balls over Charlotte’s tiny fences thrice a week? He should be plan A, but they need a real non-black-hole plan B there


This is a team that claims to be competing for a WS.
As long as he’s striking out at a 36% clip, yes. (Very small sample size, so prove it’s not a fluke one way or the other)
That AAA K rate does not play in the majors, and ,for me, screams for another plan A.

Last edited 1 month ago by PauliePaulie

He needs to make adjustments, yeah, absolutely. He’s not going to make adjustments when Charlotte’s silly little bandbox means he’s homering too much to care. It’d be nice if every prospect only came up when they were ready to dominate and their flaws polished away, but that’s not how rookiedom works for any but the true phenoms, and even they frequently struggle out the gate. He needs to learn to adjust to the bigs; if after a month, he’s totally overwhelmed, then he can go to AAA to work on adjustments.

Trooper Galactus

The problem is not whether or not Colas is ready for MLB play, but that if he isn’t there’s no credible options otherwise.


So, he’s obviously too good for AAA right now. But if he struggles his first month, he can go to AAA for more seasoning.
Got it.

To Err is Herrmann

I think JB Schuck might still be available.

Yolmer's gatorade

I would be very happy if Colas has Gavin Sheets’ career triple slash in his first year with average to above average defense in RF. Sheets’ career triple slash is .244/.304/.439. That is basically a 2 WAR player, which is what the White Sox need in RF. The season is going to depend on Eloy, Robert, Tim, and Moncada playing up to their potential and to a lessor extent Vaughn and Grandal. Colas just needs to hang in the MLB.


That’s a very good point. No one is expecting Colas to be a star- and he doesn’t have to be. Ideally he’s hitting 7th or 8th in the lineup, behind TA, Yoan, Robert, Eloy, Benintendi and Vaughn (and maybe Yaz). If those guys in front of him are hurt or ineffective, then it doesn’t matter what Colas does. But if they play up to 2021 standards, then an average Colas in RF will be a plus. You guys make it sound like we’re expecting him to hit .300 with 30 HRs and great defense. 15-20 HRs, .230-.250 BA and decent defense would be fantastic. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Yolmer's gatorade

Colas still has some progression too. He might be a 30 HR guy in his best years. To me, this year is really about Eloy, Robert, and Tim, at least on offense. If those three players play as well as they can, they’ll probably win the division. Robert and Tim have 5 WAR potential on both sides of the ball, and Eloy at his best is good enough to carry an offense himself.


If you are happy with Sheets then why do we need Colas? Sheets is already on the team.

Seriously, is everyone around here happy if Colas is just better than the worst decision this franchise has ever made (putting Vaughn in RF)? I’m feeling a lot of “at least he’s not Vaughn out there” queuing up if he’s not quite the solid defender some think.

Yolmer's gatorade

Sheets has negative defensive value.

Trooper Galactus

I can’t believe this distinction had to actually be pointed out.

Yolmer's gatorade

I think Clevinger may also be a worst decision than putting Vaughn in RF.

Bonus Baby

My optimism about 2023 has taken some hits recently. Hendriks may miss the season, Clevinger may miss the season, and the Sox haven’t done anything for the obvious needs at 2B and 4thOF. I would still take the over for them at 83.5 wins or even 84.5 wins, but I’m less confident of it than I was a month ago.

This ties in pretty closely to the Colas discussion. I have high hopes for him, but getting a 2+ WAR season out of him in 2023 would still have to be considered a significant win. By contrast, if he plays 140 games out there and produces 1 WAR, it would be a terrible result given how tight the AL Central generally looks this year. The same goes for Sosa/Romy at 2B. These might be fine numbers in a “let’s develop this player for the future” sense, but realistically there is not much of a near-term future if the Sox are bad this year.

This is why I’m so concerned about getting at least short-term stop gaps at both 2B and 4thOF. If Colas is exposed a bit at the MLB level because he can’t lay off bad pitches, it’s fine because they have another option — and I don’t think it would hurt his development, because it’s exactly the kind of thing that he probably needs time to work on, whether in AAA or over the 2023-2024 offseason. So he plays 60 games or so at the MLB level, gets exposed, and then gets sent down to work on adjustments. That’s OK — but it’s not OK at all if they have no other real option in the OF.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bonus Baby

If you want to remain optimistic, I do think we should all feel better about the cadre of Reyes, Marisnick, and Hamilton than what depth they had last year.

If you’re feeling more cynical, keep in mind that the extent of last year’s outfield depth was Leury, Engel, and Haseley.

Bonus Baby

This is true 🙂

Unfortunately, part of my earlier optimism was the idea that they would surely have to add a more viable 4thOF (as in, projected for 2 WAR, or at least close to it). It still shouldn’t be that hard, if they’re willing to give up a mid-level prospect or two for Laureano.

Augusto Barojas

Reyes, Marisnick, and Hamilton all have cumulative WAR’s under 1 since 2019. They are all awful. Optimism b/c of any is laughable. I mean Engel isn’t very good but he’s better than all 3. Hell, even Leury is better. Both Engel and Leury’s 2021 seasons were better than any of those 3 are capable of.


Not true on Marisnick, he’s compiled 2.1 fWAR since 2019 in 683 PA. If you mean since 2020, he’s at 1.1 fWAR in 314 PA, which is still very respectable. Reyes also clears the mark including 2019 but not since 2020. Marisnick is an actual respectable 5th OF, maybe 4th OF depending. He’s not awful, and there’s reason to think that Engel’s defense is decaying rather quickly with age. Don’t lump him in with the other two.

As Cirensica

Clevinger may miss the season

I am actually hoping for that to occur. I just can’t root for that guy.

Bonus Baby

I’m not rooting for the guy. I don’t want him to play either.

I’m still less optimistic than I was a month ago because, among other things, Clevinger may miss the season. Back then, it seemed like the Sox might have a semi-decent #5 SP. Now? Not so much.


What’s interesting is that the odds at Fanduel remain the Sox and Guardians co-favorites to win the Central at +160, with the Twins +250, but the over/under on number of wins has Guardians at 86.5, the Twins at 84.5, and the Sox at 83.5. Obviously a weird inconsistency there.

I think 83.5 is about right, if not generous. Their 5th starter problems alone will probably keep them from being much above .500. Davis Martin was ok last year but has a career minor league ERA of 5 and was 6 at AAA last year. I think he will get torched this year in mlb. When you have an awful 5th starter, as the Sox have had many times, it really hurts. Their lack of depth is just astounding, inexcusable, and will likely sink what isn’t that good a team even if everybody was healthy in the first place.


I for one am pleased to hear about a first-rate organization building a solid foundation on the South Side. I speak of course of Josh’s review of the Ramova Theater. The combination of large and small room remind me of Brooklyn’s highly successful elsewhere venue, so I look forward to seeing how it develops.

At the very least, more beer in the neighborhood will kill brain cells disgusted by the way Jerry Reinsdorf’s crew runs a business.

Nellie Fox

The Sox ownership has put this kid into a must play this season. The lack of signing this off season proves that. The same with Robert’s, Jimenez, and many more. Welcome to the Sox future if what if theory.